Anathema

8 Hours after the incident, on a mundane afternoon somewhere in Palermo, Sicily, far from the city, 47 was on top of one of many gray hills overlooking the entire area near a large mansion. The mansion was surrounded in all directions by a 15-foot high stone wall with sloped tops roofed with thin red tiles. 47 sat against a small fence on top of the hill. The sun was right above him, burning like a huge fiery orb in the north-west sky. The gentle breeze did very little to make the scorching heat bearable. 47, however, was not at all concerned or bothered by the weather. He had his mind focused on one thing only: getting Vittorio out of the huge mansion that he had been watching for the past hour. 47 prayed to God that Vittorio was still alive and crossed himself before kneeling down to open a black briefcase, with Ort-Meyer's emblem on top, that he brought with him, to check its contents. The case was square-shaped and made of double layered carbon fiber. Underneath the logo was a miniature thumb print analyzer. 47 took off his left hand glove and pushed his left thumb over the analyzer. A mild laser passed across the analyzing screen and the briefcase unlocked with a small snap. 47 put the glove back on and opened the briefcase. There was a small portable electronic touch screen attached to the inside of the lid. Attached to it was a small wireless communiqué for mission briefing and further info. He put the communiqué in his right ear and switched the screen on. The screen showed the Agency's 'Merces Letifer' triangular symbol on top of a dark background. Underneath the symbol was a digital keypad. He took out a small flash drive from inside his suit, inserted it in a port at the side of the screen and entered the password to access the contents of the flash drive. The symbol dissolved and was replaced by images of his target, a thickly built, pudgy-faced man in his mid-50s, with short grey-black hair neatly brushed to one side, a pair of gray eyes underneath thin brows, a slightly bulbous nose, a bushy, graying moustache, and a broad, round jaw with a weak chin. 47 switched to a map of the inner and outer grounds, the mansion and the basement with all the access routes and points marked on it. Diana's voice crackled up on the earpiece.

"47, this is Diana from Agency. We're all happy you're back doing business for us. This mutual arrangement we made to save your friend and mentor, Father Vittorio, means you will have to take care of a number of Mafia members residing at the Villa Borghese, where he is kept hostage in the basement. Prime target is Don Giuliani. Security's not exactly lax. There are plenty of guards roaming the mansion surroundings. However, don't expect to free Vittorio just like that. The Don is running a tight ship, and if alarmed, he will probably kill the priest and escape. They are used to people coming to pay respects, ransoms or bribes, but they are alerted by unusual activities. Check out the map we have of the grounds. Buena Fortuna, 47." The line was disconnected.

47 stashed the screen inside his suit and checked the case for his equipments. There was his pair of Silverballers with attached silencers and extra ammunition clips, two small glass vials containing transparent liquids, one of which had poison, marked with a small red emblem, and the other had an Agency-manufactured debilitating drug, bearing a small white emblem; and a neatly wrapped leather pouch containing half a dozen syringes, all placed in small compartments cut into the inside of the briefcase. 47 took them out, and hid them inside his suit. He took out his binoculars and scanned the entire facility, checking the grounds outside and inside the wall. The whole area was covered in plush green, neatly mown grass with gravel pathways made between the stretches of green. The paths outside the wall started from a long single strip in the western direction which separated into two paths, one in the eastern and the other in the northern direction. The path in the northern direction wound its way inside mansion premises, where it took a u-turn and stretched on in the south, and vanished in front of a small shack to the right of the mansion. Judging from the brick and mortar structure of the walls of the shack and the roofing identical to that of the mansion itself, 47 reckoned that the shack was probably a garage. There was back entrance to the garage that 47 kept an eye out for. There were spots of denser greenery scattered outside and inside of the wall, with mild foliages consisting of small flowering plants and tall Asparagus trees planted on small, thicker carpets of trimmed grass. The enclosed mansion was built in a spot that had a natural encompassment of huge mountains along with smaller hills. The summits of the distant mountains were covered in mist. The mansion itself was a rectangular, brown-and-white rustic duplex of traditional Sicilian Baroque architecture, with two square windows on either side of the front of the first floor, square balconies on either side of the second floor, three rectangular windows with arched tops and plastic blinds at the front, the northern and southern wings, and sloped but fashionable red tiled roofing. The second floor was smaller in area than the first floor and the rear was a sloped roof designed with the same red tiles. There was a narrow ledge by the balcony on the southern corner. The front of the mansion was flanked by a two-foot high granite landing with three stone steps, underneath round columns on either side of an arched ceiling in front, below a protruded garret.

From where he was standing, he could see activities inside and outside the mansion grounds. His target, the don, was on the northern balcony of the mansion, hitting golf balls. At the far eastern end of the wall, there was a grocery boy moving in food on the right side of the area next to a blue van, taking wooden crates full of groceries into the mansion through one of many small doors built into the wall, while a bulky man in a blue mail carrier's uniform with a bouquet in his right hand entered the outer premises from the left. He stopped near the trees by the western path to take a leak. 47 now turned his attention to the security detail outside the surrounding wall and main gate. The main gate of Villa Borghese was made of steel and was flanked by two guards in black suits and dark shades. Another guard was patrolling the grounds outside the wall, from the main gates to the eastern end of the wall. He was heading back inside the mansion. He reached the eastern end and walked in through the small side door through which the delivery boy had entered. 47 then scanned the security inside the wall.

"There are two at the front door and one at the side door…" Putting the binoculars away 47 saw the guard on the inside walk through a door in the wall to take a leak on a nearby evergreen. Creeping to the guard from on top of the hill, 47 elegantly prepared a syringe with a small dosage of the debilitating drug. Getting right up behind the guard, 47 threw his arm around the guard's head, plunging the needle into his neck. The man struggled, pushing and pulling, trying to break free of 47's attack. After a few moments of struggle, the guard hit the ground, completely lost of consciousness. 47 took the guard's 9mm pistol from inside his jacket and dragged his body in between the trees. He then started to undress his victim. After changing into the guard's uniform, his thoughts went over the map in his mind. Opening the door he found himself near the garage. It was on a slightly higher ground than the wall. He made sure that the coast was clear before picking up the unconscious guard on his shoulders and then silently walked up to the garage wall. The guard weighed at least 200 pounds. 47 managed to open the garage back door, carried the guard inside and quietly laid him down behind a red Porsche Classic. He made sure that the guard was well hidden before he came out of the garage, closing the door behind him. The dosage that he administered into the man's system would keep him unconscious for at least an hour.

All he had to do was walk right by the two guards by the mansion's front doors, and enter into the backyard. One of the guards carried a 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun, so 47 kept his movements cool and his senses sharp and headed towards the small flight of stairs outside the south wing of the mansion that possibly led to the cellar. Nearing the guard he could see him staring through his shades. He would not think anything of it if he just kept walking right on past him. Feeling some tension, his heartbeat began to race. Just a few feet from the stairs, another guard was standing on a small landing before a small door leading into the kitchen with his back turned, yawning and stretching. Hearing 47's footsteps on the rustling grass, the guard turned around and stared at him. 47 had no choice but to walk on until he reached the eastern end of the mansion, where there was an inner separating wall with another side door. The guard eyed 47 all the way to the door. Once inside, 47 saw a ladder built into the wall on his left and both the don's brother and son were standing by a backyard pool. 47 quickly hid behind a shrub and observed the two men. The don's brother was the one he saw leaving the message at the monastery. He was dressed in the same attire. The don's son could not have been more than 20 years old. He had a slightly freckled face with brown eyes, thin brows like his father, a thinner nose and a strong jaw. His long straw-colored hair kept falling over his forehead no matter how many times he pushed them to one side. He was dressed in an orange Polo shirt, white pants and brown shoes. 47 noticed a Desert Eagle, similar to the ones holstered in his uncle's harness, tucked in the back of his pants. The two were talking casually. But then the topic changed abruptly.

"Do you think he will pay the ransom?" The son spoke to his uncle.

"I don't know. It all depends on if he cares and whether or not he wants his friend to die." The uncle said indifferently.

Angry but cautious, 47 came to the ladder and climbed it. Then he waited for the son and uncle to make any kind of move that would draw them away from the pool. The balcony of the don's study was within visual of the two men. 47 would attract too much attention if he just walked straight up to it, and would blow his cover. After about a minute, he heard the brother say that he smelled something delicious and went inside the mansion; the son followed. Staying low, 47 traversed the roof until he came to the edge. A wooden plank was placed over the narrow gap between the roof and the balcony. 47 stepped onto the balcony and reached the balcony. He could either, bust in and shoot the don or he could make it a bit more poetic. Looking through the keyhole, 47 noticed the don reading some papers. He was going to get his revenge and he was going to do it right. Opening the door, 47 reached his hand into his suit.

Don Giuliani was sitting on a comfortable, leather-backed revolving chair behind a large and nicely carved wooden desk placed in the middle of his study. The back of his chair faced the window which overlooked a view of the swimming pool outside. He was drinking tea and admiring the bouquet of pink flowers on his desk that was just delivered to him. There was a bookshelf to his right, with two doors on either side of it. The door to the right side of the shelf led out onto the balcony outside his study and the one to the left side led into one of the landings of the second floor. There were two more doors to his left, the nearest one also leading out onto the balcony, and the other one into the hallway. He took out a notepad from one of the drawers underneath his desk and began writing a 'Thank You' note. Suddenly, the balcony door to the right opened and one of his guards walked in, except this guard was a tall, bald man. The don took a few seconds to recall whether any of his guards were bald. The guard produced a silencer-attached pistol from behind his back and the don realized that he had no bald guards. The sudden appearance of this man in his study had already startled the don very much. His state of shock proved to be fatal as he was slightly slow in reacting, and he fumbled with the desk's top drawer, trying desperately to take out his revolver while cursing the unexpected visitor in his native tongue. The delay was enough for the assassin to strike; two muffled spits issued from the gun, and two high velocity projectiles struck the don, one in his chest and the other in his throat. The don's grip from the drawer loosened, he keeled over and fell sideways out of his chair. The bullet to his throat prevented him to call out for help as he choked on his own blood gushing out of his mouth and the wound. The assassin stood over him as he pulled out a second silenced pistol and pointed each at the two doors leading out to the hallway and the second floor landing.

The door to the hallway opened first as a guard walked in. He stopped in his tracks as he witnessed the scene before him. He reached inside his suit but the assassin was faster. He pulled the trigger again, and another bullet caught the guard right between his eyes. The guard's head was pulled back with a violent jerk. He was about to hit the ground hard before the assassin caught him by the collar of his jacket and gently laid him down. He closed the door and then stood over the dying don once again. He then knelt down and took off his shades. Their eyes met, and the last image of Don Giuliani was that of a man with his eyes, devoid of remorse or hesitation, boring into his. The man reached inside his suit and pulled out a kitchen knife. The don recognized the knife and his eyes widened in horror as the assassin brought it over his chest. The knife steadied right over where his heart was and then began descending slowly. The assassin had him pinned down with his knee in his gut. The tip of the knife touched his flesh and slowly, and painfully, began to pierce through. The don watched helplessly as the blade sunk lower and lower into his chest, the pain intensifying every second, until suddenly, he felt the knife crush his ribs and enter his heart. He gave a muffled yelp as more blood gurgled out of his open mouth. Then, in a final act of vengeance, the assassin twisted the knife, spilling crimson all over the don's shirt and more red flowed out onto the floor. The don let out a last excruciating breath and went still with his eyes wide open in shock and fear, and pool of crimson slowly began spreading out on the floor.

Making sure his target was dead, 47 removed the key from his pocket and got up. He had gotten his revenge. Now all he had to do was get Vittorio and get out of there. In order to do that he would have to have a way to get him out. He could not just walk him out; he would have to use the car. The intelligence stated that the car was the brother's. 47 only had one target but why not ruin the entire family, kill the son and the brother.

Back out on the balcony, he could see the recently deceased don's brother and son back outside by the pool. 47 made his way to the ladder all the while watching his two new targets. End the entire family line, that's what they deserve, he thought. Descending the ladder hidden behind the trees, he almost did not notice the two walk by toward the back wall to take a leak. It was the perfect time for vengeance. Pulling out the twin Silverballers, he followed them like a ghost. Not alerting them to his presence, he stood only three feet from both of them. The barrels lined up at each of their intending targets' heads.

"Ah! I feel so much bet…" The brother's head exploded onto the wall. The son, in complete shock, turned around only to fall the second he saw 47's face.

Picking up the car key from the brother's shirt pocket, 47 entered the house from the back door and traveled through the dining room to the kitchen. A narrow flight of stairs at the end of the kitchen led down into the basement. Not seeing anyone except a bulky old woman in cook's outfit washing dishes by the sink of a well furnished culinary unit while humming, and the grocery boy bringing in the crates, 47 crept into the dimly lit basement. The basement had stone walls, a low arched ceiling with small light bulbs hanging from it, and a cold stone floor. 47 reached the steel door of the room where Father Vittorio was kept hostage. Setting the key inside the lock, he turned the knob. The room was empty. There was a single wooden chair, but Father Vittorio wasn't there… Why wasn't he there? 47 immediately contacted the Agency.

"Diana, he's not in the basement. They must have moved him."

Diana answered in a few seconds, "47, this is Diana from the Agency. You're probably right. Recent satellite footage suggests a priest being dragged along the villa grounds by four bearded, Russian-looking types in uniform." She waited for few seconds and then spoke again, "your target has been eliminated, 47. I suggest you find a way out of there."

47's heart began to hammer inside his chest. He was too late to save his friend. Perhaps the Agency could track the priest. Hopefully they could… Turning from the empty room he walked out of the basement and into the sunshine. There were two guards frantically talking near the side door.

"The Don is dead! So are his brother and son!"

"How the hell did this happen?" The guard saw 47 ascend from the basement door. 47 noticed the unwanted attention and turned toward the garage. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see both men walking toward him. Making haste, 47 started to run. The next thing he knew, he was hearing bullets and seeing them hit the garage in front of him. 47 ducked into the garage and frantically unlocked the car door. A guard from in front of the garage was crossing the gap to see what was going on when he noticed 47 get into the car. Like a bat out of hell, 47 floored it, rolling the guard over the hood and onto the ground. A few shotgun blasts sounded as he raced away and smashed through the gate. Turning left, 47 sped down the dirt and left the villa behind.

As the car gradually became a tiny red speck in the distance, leaving behind a cloud of dust, a highly magnified binocular was lowered, revealing a pair of hazel eyes. The owner of those eyes was dressed in a blue mail carrier's uniform. He was crouching by a fairly tall Asparagus on top of a hill, a good distance away from the surrounding walls of the mansion. He had been waiting, and watching the events as they unfolded in the mansion, from a nearly undetectable position. Beside him was a small shoulder bag which was crammed with an artificial face, a fake moustache and a pair of fake black eyebrows, a black wig and big roll of padding that he unhooked from his belly after he climbed the hill. His glossy brown hair was a little ruffled. He put the binoculars away and took out a cell phone from inside his uniform jacket. He called on a secured line. After three tones a gruff voice answered.

"So, my mysterious friend, what is the situation? Did he take the mission?"

"He just got away in Fulvio's Porsche. He ended the entire bloodline of Giuliani. It looks like he's back in business. Your plan has been successful…so far."

"Ah!" the man at the other end exclaimed delightedly. "Have a little faith. Soon he will be working for me, tying up my loose ends." There was a thick Russian accent in the man's voice.

"Let's hope so." The American replied. "So, what's your next move?"

"Come join me in my country. I will show you what I have in store for Mr. 47. До скорой встречи, Товарищ." He hung up. The American picked up his bag and checked the area once again before descending the hill, and walked away in the western direction.

That evening, at the monastery, 47 was pacing to and fro in his shed. A Bible lay open on his bed. He was about to close it when his laptop bleeped. The Agency was calling. 47 put the Bible on the table and received the call.

"47, Diana here. We are sorry that you had so little luck at the mansion. It's really hard to tell where Vittorio was taken. We lost him in the airport." There was a brief silence. Then Diana continued, "The Agency does, however, feel that we've fulfilled our end of the deal and expects you to comply with the terms by completing a minor assignment in St. Petersburg, Russia. Your objective is to take out an ex-KGB officer, participating in a secret meeting, solely arranged so that you can take a clean shot at the officer. The meeting will take place at 1300 hours local time tomorrow in the Pushkin building at Varosznitz Square. The room is on the second floor on the west wing, overlooking the Square. The windows are marked on the attached image. The building is a former FSB headquarters and can only be accessed from the Square. There is one main entrance and a back entrance, both heavily guarded by FSB Paramilitary Personnel. The target must be eliminated during the meeting, which is scheduled to last five minutes. Absolutely no one except the target must be harmed. This is very important, 47. Upon arrival by Metro, you will find your equipment paraphernalia in locker 137 at the station. Your escape route is returning with the train. Avoid all contacts with soldiers and guards. They are instructed to remove civilians from the area."

The line was disconnected. Realizing that he had to worry about Vittorio later, 47 checked the image of the Pushkin building. The windows were circled in red. He closed the Bible, got up and opened his wardrobe drawers. He took out a Russian passport.